Thursday, December 27, 2007
Add another three months to Salinas’ prolonged pursuit of a downtown hotel. Developers have asked for more time to finalize the design concept and business terms for a hotel and condominium complex planned for Main Street’s 100 block.
The exclusive negotiating agreement between the Salinas City Center Company and Salinas Redevelopment Agency expires Dec. 31, but City Manager Dave Mora is expected to extend the negotiating period through March 31, 2008—the third extension since the City Council selected the company in December 2005. Mora had not responded to the extension request by the Weekly’s deadline.
Peter Kasavan, a Salinas architect and partner in the hotel project, says the project design is in flux. The group’s last public proposal included a 140-room hotel and 175 condos. But the downturn in the housing market and rising construction costs have led the partnership to rethink its concept.
The market for a hotel in Salinas, Kasavan says, will depend somewhat on additional economic development in the city, such as Alisal Marketplace, a 52-acre, mixed-use development proposed for east of downtown. Kasavan is also a member of the Salinas Planning and Research Corporation, a recently formed group that has proposed a downtown government campus.
Kasavan expects the hotel design to be finalized in April, followed by the initiation of the environmental impact report.
Still, the hotel holdup harkens memories of Gerry Kehoe, a charismatic Irish businessman who strung the city along for nearly four years with empty promises of bringing a Hilton and high-rise condos to downtown. City officials insist they are not dealing with another Kehoe. The partnership is made of homegrown agribusiness executives, including Bruce Taylor, Basil Mills and Andrew Smith.
“I know these guys,” says Mayor Dennis Donohue. “Unless they were serious they wouldn’t be asking for an extension.”